“Get over it” – The lack of empathy in the advertising industry


Credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

An Australian survey revealed a perceived lack of empathy among advertising industry executives.

And more than half of those surveyed are considering quitting because they feel they are not accepted at work for who they are.

Different Shoes, the first study on empathy within the media, marketing and creative industry, interviewed more than 500 people.

Four in five (86%) said empathy at work was personally important to them, but only 38% believed their employer valued empathy.

The top barriers to empathetic workplaces were time pressure (80%), focus on customer satisfaction over employee satisfaction (68%), and lack of understanding of the role of empathy and trade measures (66%).

The results also showed a gap in the perceived levels of empathy of leaders compared to middle managers and junior staff: 70% of respondents in leadership positions felt they worked in an inclusive workplace, compared to only 55% of respondents at intermediate or junior level.

The main benefits of empathy in the workplace were seen as better collaboration between teams, improved job satisfaction and a more inclusive work culture.

But more than 51% of respondents planned to leave in the next 12 months, those who felt they were not accepted for who they were at their workplace and felt out of place or working not in an inclusive workplace more likely to consider leaving. .

The likelihood of leaving was also higher in the middle to junior levels (61%) compared to all responses (51%).

The study was led by the Mentally Healthy Change Group, a cross-industry group of volunteers dedicated to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health in our industry.

Andy Wright, Co-Chair of the Mentally Healthy Change Group and Founder of Never Not Creative: “It’s positive to see the focus on mental wellbeing improving since Never Not Creative and UnLtd came together to form the Mentally Group. Healthy Change in 2018.

“The data from the Different Shoes study tells us that empathy is personally important to employees and that leaders genuinely want to take care of their employees.

“However, it seems that respondents don’t always see modeled empathetic intentions because often ‘business comes first’.

“Indeed, the stronger the belief that a company puts profit first, the greater the likelihood that members of the company will want to leave.”

Kate Holland, Co-Chair of Mentally Healthy Change Group and Head of Marketing at MOOD: “Empathy is a subject where action and role models speak louder than good intentions.

“It’s clear that employees believe empathy is essential and organizations need to move beyond ‘tick the box’ exercises and become more active in listening, supporting and understanding the needs of individuals.”

The study also asked for practical examples of good and bad empathy within their organization. One interviewee shared that his manager told him, “Stop being dramatic! You’re not burnt out, I know what burnout feels like; we just have to get over this.”

Respondents were then asked to suggest a more empathetic response to the same situation, with the respondent offering a better response such as: “You are clearly affected by this situation, so let’s talk about how we can reduce the stress involved.” If you feel exhausted, you have the right to take time to recover. There will always be delays, but your health is more important.

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